Travel: what's on worldwide

31 Dec

Japan

The Japanese New Year's celebrations, the Nima-Cho, are kept to a tight time schedule as the main event involves the ritual turning of a giant egg-timer contraption. One of the six glass pyramids at The Nima Sand museum houses a five metre "sand glass" containing one ton of sand, which is turned on its head at the stroke of midnight, taking the following year to filter back through again.

- 1 Jan

Poland

Put on your best ugly sister frock and get ready for a 24 hour panto. The "Vagabonds New Year" in the village of Bedzin sees outlandish skits and tricks based on traditional formulas performed by resident rogues dressed in extravagant costumes. Starting early on the 31st, these itinerant souls perform their way around the village until well into New Year's Day.

- 1 Jan

Scotland

A flaming alternative to Edinburgh's definitive and heavily patronised Hogmanay festival, takes place in the north-east of Scotland, in the seaside town of Stonehaven. The Fireballs Ceremony celebrates Hogmanay and Ne'er Day with the traditional pagan ferocity, involving great balls of fire. Whisky fuelled participants parade the streets swinging metal cages full of burning debris around their heads, apparently to ward off evil spirits for the year ahead.

- 1 Jan

Switzerland

New years celebrations in Ahetringele, Laupen are not the usual bash. Maidens are beaten with inflated pigs' bladders until they fall to pieces - the weapons that is. This ham fisted "happy New Year" procession bids farewell to the old year with the clamorous ringing of huge bells, whilst the "bladder men" beat the crowd, and the "broom men" brandish poles tied with juniper berries.

- 26 Jan

Australia

The festival of Sydney (above) starts as it means to go on with a high summer, high energy, New Year's Eve party continuing for most of January with theatre, jazz, open air cinema, visual arts, and the legendary free concerts in the Domain - Opera in the Park, and Symphony Under the Star - culminating with Australia Day on 26 January.

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